Pope Francis, the Catholic Church, and the American Imagination
Dr. Kathleen Holscher, University of New Mexico
February 9, 2014 (Sun) 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
University of New Mexico Continuing Education Auditorium
1634 University Blvd. NE (at the intersection with Indian School Rd.)
Since becoming pope in spring 2013, Francis I has left a deep impression on both Catholics and non-Catholics in the United States. Both his formal statements, and his informal remarks and gestures, are broadcast by the American media, and widely circulated over social media. Time magazine tapped into this popular fascination when it named Francis its 2013 Person of the Year. What is it about this pope that has piqued the imaginations of American Catholics and non-Catholics? This presentation will examine Pope Francis’s appeal across different sectors of American society. It will consider the particular resonance the pope’s words and actions have for a 21st century American public with diverse approaches to, and motivations for, imagining Catholicism.
Kathleen Holscher is assistant professor of American Studies, and also holds the Endowed Chair of Roman Catholic Studies in the Religious Studies program at UNM. She received her BA from Swarthmore College, and her MA and Ph.D. in religious studies from Princeton University. Before coming to UNM, Kathleen taught at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. Her research interests include American Catholicism, religion in the American West, and church-state history. Her first book, Religious Lessons: Catholic Sisters, Public Education and the Law in Mid-Century New Mexico, was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. Religious Lessons focuses on Catholic sisters who taught in New Mexico’s public schools, and the legal battle over their employment. Holscher is currently working on two projects. The first deals with changes to rural New Mexican Catholic life during the twentieth century. The second explores the Catholic sympathy with evangelical Protestantism that appeared around legal and cultural issues in the United States during the 1960s and 70s.